Businesses Find Clients at Yakima Central Washington State Fair

Even after eating a few corn dogs, a large plate of rolled fries and a deep-fried Kit Kat, attendees of the Central Washington State Fair often don’t think about how to pre-arrange their funerals.

But that didn’t stop Dan Williams, funeral director of Valley Hills Funeral Home & Crematory, from talking to hundreds of people every day at his booth at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

“I always get these crazy looks,” Williams said Friday, Sept. 9. On the 23rd, the opening day of the exhibition. “But we’ve actually gotten quite a bit of business…by the end of 10 days, we’ve been talking to people. We’re here to educate people about prearrangement.”

From bakeries and t-shirt booths to vendors selling big-ticket items like hot tubs and solar panels, vendors sit side-by-side on the domed floor at the fair’s home market.

While most people don’t come to the Washington Central Fair to buy new windows or remodel their bathrooms, the businesses that offer those opportunities are happy to sow the seeds of an idea for the thousands of fairgoers who wander the SunDome.

“We were of course interested in this product,” said Victoria Panka, a Re-Bath representative in the market. “With this big, fancy display, people see it and they want to know what it’s about. If they’re thinking about remodeling their bathroom, we can give them something.”

Kathy Kramer, president and CEO of the Washington Central Exposition Association, said this year’s fair gave smaller vendors space for the first five days, the last five days, or both.

We tagged with the Central Washington State Fair expert; here's his advice

Lots of potential customers

As with many business expo events, booths offering big-ticket items aren’t just a fancy display to attract potential customers. Free items like snacks, pens or notepads, and even cool, clean water can help attract people to the booth.

The latter is a natural product of Yakimakurigan Water. The water filtration and softening company at 617 Fruitvale Blvd. has been participating in the Central Washington State Fair for at least 30 years, said Mike Brown, regional sales manager.

“We have shows across the state, and it’s one of the better outcomes,” Brown said Friday. “Most years, we’ll get at least 80 leads. Today, we’re in the first three hours. 5 leads have been obtained.”

Brown believes that Yakima-based shows tend to bring a higher level of musical performance than similar events in Spokane. The demographics in the crowd are also broad, making it attractive to businesses participating in the home market.

“A county or state fair attracts people from all walks of life — from the richest to the less wealthy. They all come here to have a good time,” he added. “In my opinion, one of the best things you can do is get a booth and show your name and products in front of so many people.”

With locations in Yakima, Kennewick and Wenatchee, Re-Bath also generates a ton of leads at every show it attends.

The Re-Bath booth at the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo last month generated about 25 leads a day, Panka said, and she expects a similar number at this week’s Central Washington State Fair.

see familiar faces

Jeannie Reinmuth, owner of Harmony Mountain Candle Company. In Glid, it is the home market that participated in the exhibition for the first time.

Reinmuth, who has been a vendor at the farmers’ market in downtown Yakima, said Friday that she had seen and visited several regulars at the SunDome.

“A lot of people came and saw that we were a local business and they appreciated it,” she added. “They love seeing familiar faces.”

Reinmuth’s soy candles are sold in 14 stores from Cle Elum to Prosser, so Yakima Valley residents have plenty of opportunities to see and buy her wares. The Central Washington State Fair puts her products in front of more people, she said.

“It was our first time here and it was great to see some of our customers come up and say hello,” Reinmuth said. “I know a lot of these suppliers too – we often sell together. It’s a good event.”

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More options for businesses

Harmony Mountain Candle is exactly the kind of local small business that Fair Association President and CEO Kramer hopes to attract for the 2022 event. Flexibility in the number of days businesses can participate is one of the changes in home market policy.

“As I started to learn more about Yakima and all the small businesses here, and the new businesses that came out of the pandemic, I wanted to find a way for them to be a part of the show,” Cramer said.

“When talking to them at farmers markets, online and in the community, they all shared that one of their biggest barriers to attending the show was the 10 days they had to be here and that commitment without the staff or resources,” she added. Say.

To address this, Kramer and the show organizers split the event in half, allowing vendors to attend Hometown Marketplace for five days instead of the entire 10-day show.

“Replacing in the show is not a big deal because they can easily pack up in a few hours, and suppliers can move in in the second half of the year,” Cramer said.

“We want to use the show to help ‘incubate’ these small businesses so they can take advantage of the opportunity to present their products to the show’s audience,” she added. “I think it’s important to make sure the show has a good balance between local and regional suppliers and the businesses that attend the show.”

Clearly, the new policy is working. Cramer said Hometown Marketplace has sold out its five-day booth at both halves of this year’s show and has a waitlist for next year.

“We’re excited to see the area overcrowded and plan to expand the home market next year to allow more local and regional small and new businesses to participate,” Cramer said. “We also want to make it affordable, so we Offered a discounted rate of $200 for five days.”

For more information on the 2022 Central Washington State Fair, visit

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